1996 FERRARI F355 Spider

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1996 FERRARI F355 Spider

Background

The Ferrari 355 looks so fresh and modern it’s hard to believe that the F355 GTB was launched nearly three decades ago in 1994. While it might have been the last of the Maranello cars with rear buttresses, the lack of a see-through engine cover is the only sign that it is from a different millennium.

Contemporary reviewers complained that the predecessor 348 was too slow, so Ferrari’s answer was the F355, an achingly pretty car whose looks were underpinned by a high-revving V8 engine, two-stage electronic dampers that transformed the car’s handling, and a clean, aerodynamic shape that offered its driver almost perfect visibility.

Whilst the initial 35 referred to the V8’s increased displacement to 3.5-litres, the second 5 referred to the number of valves per cylinder rather than the number of cylinders as had been the practice up to then.

Performance was strong too, with 375bhp, a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed a shade over 180mph. Jeremy Clarkson said at the time that it was the best car he had ever driven - and backed that bold statement up by buying one for his personal use.

A year after launch, Ferrari introduced a Spider and a GTS model alongside the Berlinetta. Whilst the Spider had a full power-folding hood, the GTS was effectively a Berlinetta with a removable “targa” roof panel. A race-ready F355 Challenge was also brought out based on the GTB for customers to compete in Ferrari’s own race series.

The F355 is the last of the truly analogue Ferraris, which is another very good reason why the F355 was an instant classic when it was launched and is still highly prized today.

The Vehicle

This left-hand-drive Californian Ferrari F355 Spider is one of 2,664 examples equipped with the highly desirable 6-speed manual gearbox (semi-auto F1 transmission was an option from 1997).

Thanks to comprehensive documentation and a full Carfax report, we know that after commencing build in late March 1996, it was shipped to the USA in April and was first registered to a lucky Californian in June of that year. Two years later it began a 14-year stint at a prestige rental car just north of San Francisco, before relocating further south to just outside Los Angeles for two years.

It was then acquired by The Auto Gallery of Woodland Hills, from whom it was bought by Oxfordshire-based specialist car dealer Nick Dove and imported to the UK in November 2014 having only been driven 21,900 miles. He registered it with the DVLA in February 2015, had it checked over by Graypaul Nottingham and sold it to a gentleman from Bath three months later.

This owner had the car’s lighting converted for UK roads along with some underside repair and paint. He kept the car for several years; serviced and attended to regularly by marque dealers and performance car specialists in the Wiltshire area but also including one at luxury car specialist Talleres Rotor in Marbella, Spain in 2018.

The car appears to have been in the trade for the last year or so, with additional repairs and servicing having been carried out by AML Performance in Macclesfield and JCT600 in Leeds.

Technically this prancing horse has had 6 owners between the US and UK but you could legitimately discount two of those who were car dealers just buying the car to sell on.

On the Outside

Whilst there is a growing interest in Ferraris of other hues, you can’t really go wrong with their classic Rosso Corsa. And the scarlet paint on this beauty is in very good order with barely a mark on it across the visible surfaces of the car.

The Scuderia shields on the front wings might upset the purists but they are likely to be a dealer option that were supplied as enamelled stickers in period. There were factory option shields from 1998 but these were recessed into a specially stamped wing panel.

The ‘90s-special pop-up headlamps do what their name implies - in unison too - and the glass around the car seems in good condition.

The folding roof is also in good order and appears to work well. Folded away it sits under a fleece-lined leather tonneau cover which fastens onto stud pins. One of these studs has become unscrewed or otherwise detached from the car but nothing appears to be missing.

The car sits on 18-inch 5-spoke Speedline alloys which are in good, undamaged condition with chrome-finish bolts and valve caps. All are shod with matching Hankook Ventus V12 tyres, dating from 2013.

On the Inside

The Nero (black) interior isn’t the classic Crema that often accompanies a red exterior but it has proven to be a more practical option as it doesn’t develop a patina anything like as quickly as the light-coloured hide. In fact the interior looks to be in excellent condition, much like the outside. The only blemish we could find was in the front nearside corner of the dash top where it meets the windscreen. There is a slight lifting of the covering and small tears in the edge of the material.

A couple of the switches are suffering from that stickiness that seemed to plague pre-millennium Italian cars but most are fine and the chrome-balled gearstick and classic open gate to the gearbox look amazing.

The carpets are clean and in good order and the car comes with fitted overmats for additional protection. Alongside the handbrake lever, between the driver’s seat and the sill, there is a thin case which houses various cleaning items including Ferrari-branded work gloves.

The stereo has been updated and uprated to a Nakamichi CD-400 head unit with front boot-mounted ARC Audio high performance amplifier. Both of which date from the early noughties.

As far as we’ve been able to test, the electrical equipment works as it should with just a slight impedance on the driver’s window from the channel rubber which has come loose.

Underneath

Opening the front-hinged boot, the short gas struts struggle to hold the bonnet up but it gives access to quite a spacious luggage compartment. Stowed within the space is an original Ferrari-embossed tan leather tool kit, seemingly complete with spanners, screwdrivers and spare belts. These tool kits are quite sought after and change hands on their own for up to £2k.

Aside from minor surface rust on a few exposed edges of the subframe, most of the undersides are protected by plastic undertrays which appear intact although scuffed along some of the lower edges. There’s the odd fixing missing too, causing at least one panel to flap slightly at the front alongside some scuffing on the painted underside of the bumper.

Under the rear deck, the engine bay looks very clean and tidy and not being on show like later Ferrari V8s it doesn’t have the red cam covers, instead opting for a classic but smart black across most of the components.

History Highlights

This F355 spider has a current MOT, valid until April 2023, which it passed without advisories - as it has done at the last 4 annual inspections.

Although there is a genuine F355 UK service booklet, it is unstamped but we can see from the Carfax report and other documentation in the history file, that the car was regularly serviced and maintained. The list of interventions and annotations below also validates the current low mileage on the car.

Apr 1998 - 7,538 - California

Jun 1998 - 8,395

Apr 1999 - 11,216

Jul 1999 - 11,830

Aug 2000 - 12,357

Dec 2002 - 12,903

Dec 2003 - 12,910

Feb 2004 - 13,061

Mar 2004 - 13,141

Sep 2006 - 13,200 (approx) - HLM Automotive, San Rafael, Calif.

Aug 2011 - 13,748

May 2013 - 18,605

Jul 2014 - 21,376 - Major service - Calabasas Luxury Cars, Calif.

Nov 2014 - 21,710 - The Auto Gallery, Calif

Mar 2015 - 21,963 - Health check - Graypaul Nottingham, UK

May 2015 - electrics converted to UK spec, paint etc - Simply Project Shop, Oxfordshire

Dec 2018 - 23,846 - New belts, gaskets, plugs, oil, battery - Talleres Rotor Marbella, Spain

Aug 2020 - 23,976 - A/C and ECU - AML Performance, Macclesfield

Dec 2021 - 24,021 - service - JCT600 Leeds

Also in the history file are: a copy of the US title document, original US owners book pack and numerous invoices and inspection certificates - mostly from its time in the UK.

What We Think

The Ferrari F355 never really went through the it’s-just-an-old-Ferrari stage, which means that most have been well looked after mechanically, keeping up to date with servicing and timing belt changes through main dealers or independent specialists.

This manual Spider is just such an example which has plenty of maintenance and service history for the low mileage and seems to run and drive pretty well. There is some squeaking from the front of the car when driving along our wonderful B-roads - perhaps around the windscreen scuttle or dashtop where the body’s rigidity was compromised for the drop-top, and at a certain rpm it sounds like the engine cover picks up a harmonic frequency and vibrates.

However, the steering was nice and light, the gear change fairly slick - although first and second barely get used once you’re underway - and there was no shortage of power.

With asking prices for F355s having bottomed out several years ago, we’ve seen a rise followed by a steadying over the past few years, especially for left-hand-drive cars, so we expect this beautiful Californian F355 Spider to fetch between £50,000 and £60,000.

The biggest issue for left-hand-drive cars in the UK is enlarged blind spots, but with the roof down in this Spider you’ve got a 360-degree view of everything around you. So don’t let it put you off from bidding, this could be the cheapest way into a very, very tidy F355.

Viewing is always encouraged. This particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays between 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

james harvey

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon., United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Trade
  • Odometer Reading: 24084
  • Chassis Number: ZFFXR48A8T0105190
  • Engine: 3495
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: LHD
  • Colour: Red
  • Interior: Black
  • Estimated Price: £50,000 - £60,000

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